West Kgn enquiry won't start this month - Golding
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Justice Minister Mark Golding signalled on Wednesday that the Government is working to start the commission of enquiry into the military incursion in west Kingston before the end of the year, even as the Opposition indicated that it was anticipating a September commencement.
Golding told The Gleaner that with the commissioners having been sworn, the preparatory work was being done in terms of getting all in place to marshall the evidence.
"To this end, they are hoping to start before the end of this calendar year," he said.
The justice minister said a September commencement date was not on the agenda.
Alexander Williams, the opposition spokesman on justice, told The Gleaner that he had received no official word from the minister but was expecting the enquiry to begin by the end of this month.
Williams is one of two attorneys selected by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to supervise the planning of the party's participation in the enquiry, with former parliamentarian Ernest Smith being the other.
"The JLP will be closely watching the proceedings in an official manner," he said. "We expect members of the party to assist the residents of Tivoli Gardens in a legal capacity, to watch on behalf of the party."
Williams, however, declined to identify the members of the JLP's legal team.
"The lawyers have been identified and have already been working," said Williams.
But party insiders suggest that perceived mishandling of the extradition request for former Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding continues to haunt the JLP. As such, some attorneys associated with the party are reluctant to get involved in the enquiry.
Others, however, argued that unlike the 2011 Manatt-Dudus commission of enquiry, the upcoming proceedings are not about lawyers on show as it is not prosecutorial but fact-finding in nature.
"On the last occasion, it was about lawyers," said the JLP-affiliated attorney who requested anonymity. "How would the participation or non-participation of lawyers have any effect on the terms of the enquiry as set out?"
TERMS OF REFERENCE
Based on its terms of reference, the commissioners have been charged with, among other things, enquiring into:
Whether the rights of any person or persons were violated in any of the affected or related communities by either law-enforcement officers or by anyone else and, if so, whose rights were violated, and the manner and extent of such violations, and by whom such violations were perpetrated.
The circumstances under which, and by whom, several police stations and other state properties (including police or military vehicles) were attacked and damaged or destroyed by firebombs, gunfire or other means during or around the period of the state of emergency declared in May 2010;
The conduct of operations by the security forces of Jamaica in Tivoli Gardens and related areas during the said state of emergency in the month of May 2010.